Increase in New Wisconsin HIV Cases May Not Indicate Long-Term Increase, State Health Official Says
The number of newly reported HIV cases in Wisconsin increased by 16% from 2001 to 2002, but the increase may not indicate a long-term upward trend in the number of HIV cases, Dr. James Vergeront, director the state's AIDS/HIV Program said last week, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. In 2002, 390 new HIV diagnoses were reported, compared with 336 in 2001. However, 53 fewer new HIV cases were reported in 2001, compared with 2000. Vergeront said, "It is important ... to put this one-year increase in perspective," adding that the number of newly reported HIV cases remained relatively stable between 1998 and 2000. Vergeront said that the data suggest that the decline in the number of new cases reported in 2001 "may have been a random fluctuation in an otherwise general leveling of cases that has been ongoing since 1998." However, Vergeront added that "it is clear that a leveling off at this high number of cases is unacceptable, and intensified prevention efforts will be required to again put the case numbers on a declining path." The first HIV case in the state was reported in 1983, and the number of new HIV infections continued to rise until peaking between 1990 and 1993 (Simms, Wisconsin State Journal, 8/11). In the first half of 2003, 197 new HIV cases have been reported in the state, according to the Wisconsin HIV/AIDS Quarterly Surveillance Summary (Associated Press, 8/11).
Vergeront said that the recent overall decline in the number of new HIV diagnoses has not been seen among minorities. Approximately 54% of new HIV cases reported in the state between 2000 and 2002 were among minorities, who make up only 12% of the state's population. HIV prevalence among Hispanics is 6.5 times higher than that of whites, and HIV prevalence among blacks in the state is 14 times higher than that of whites, according to the State Journal (Wisconsin State Journal, 8/11).